The cost of slow page speed: How eCommerce site speed affects sales

Gibson Toombs
May 27th, 2021

When it comes to the customer experience, speed matters. Whether they are ordering food at a restaurant, purchasing a home, or getting their car fixed, consumers expect businesses to facilitate a process that gets them in and out as quickly as possible. And online shoppers are no exception. 

Slow eCommerce site speed can cause companies to lose customers and miss out on potential revenue. In fact, research shows that:

  • 1 out of every 4 visitors will abandon a website that takes over 4 seconds to load. 
  • Every 1-second delay causes customer satisfaction to reduce by 16%. 
  • And 64% of online shoppers will choose to shop somewhere else after an unsatisfactory site experience.

Ecommerce site speed plays an important role in keeping customers engaged, increasing sales, maintaining a solid online presence, and improving your business’ bottom line. As the eCommerce landscape becomes more competitive, fast page load time is not only preferable, it’s a necessity for survival. 

So what exactly causes websites to slow down? Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Unoptimized images
  • Bulky code
  • Excessive on-page advertisements
  • Poor hosting
  • Insufficient caching

Later in this article, we’ll dive deeper into the factors that determine page load times, as well as how to make improvements for your site. But first, let’s make sure we fully understand the benefits of fast eCommerce site speed.

Why site speed is important

Simply put, a slow-performing website is not good for business. Here are the top advantages of accelerating eCommerce site speed: 

Decreasing bounce rates

Your website’s speed has a direct impact on its bounce rate. When online shoppers have to deal with slow page load times, they often become frustrated and leave. In other words, keeping page load times down is essential for keeping users on your site, and eventually converting them into paying customers. If the load time goes from one to three seconds, your bounce rate may grow by 32%. And if it goes up to 10 seconds, your bounces can increase by 123%.

Increasing sales and conversion rates

Here’s another scary statistic: Every 1-second delay in page load time can result in a 7% drop in your conversion rate. So if your website currently brings in $50,000 in sales per day, that one additional second could end up costing you $1.2 million in lost annual revenue. Speeding up your eCommerce site means lowering bounce rates, increasing customer satisfaction, and ultimately driving higher sales and revenue. 

Improving search engine optimization (SEO)

Page load times also play a role in how well your eCommerce site performs in search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. These search engines penalize sites with high bounce rates by lowering their ranking positions on search engine results pages (SERPs). And as we’ve already discussed, slower site speed means higher bounce rates. The average load time for pages on Google’s first-page results is 1.65 seconds. In other words, with slow-performing pages, it’s very unlikely that your site will rank on the first page of Google SERPs. 

Maintaining a positive digital presence

According to a recent survey, 70% of consumers agree that page speed affects their willingness to purchase products from an online store. If a user bounces from your site due to slow page speed, they are unlikely to return for another session, write a positive review online, nor recommend your business to their friends and family. Therefore, eCommerce site speed plays an important role in establishing and maintaining a positive reputation for your brand. 

How to improve site speed

If you’re noticing that your webpages are performing slower than usual, there could be several reasons as to why. For most businesses, these are the top solutions for improving eCommerce site speed: 

Use a powerful eCommerce platform

With a reliable SaaS provider like Shopify or BigCommerce running your back-end eCommerce engine, you can better facilitate fast load times for your customers. These platforms are designed to handle multiple transactions at once, spikes in network traffic, and the ability to frequently add and modify content—without sacrificing site performance. 

Prioritize testing for both desktop and mobile

By running routine tests to measure your eCommerce site speed, you can get in front of page loading issues before they affect the customer experience. Remember, web pages perform differently depending on the device, so it’s important to always test for both desktop and mobile. Many businesses will only prioritize their desktop sites when it comes to running tests and making updates. However, a study from 2019 shows that mobile browsing makes up at least 77% of online time in the US. We’ll talk more about site speed testing a little later. 

Check with your hosting provider

Maintaining a fast website is not possible without a reliable hosting service. As a growing business, it’s important to understand the limitations and capabilities of your hosting provider so that you don’t run into any scalability problems. A service with little memory or bandwidth may work fine in the early days, but as your company attracts more customers, sells more products, and engages in seasonal promotions, you’ll need a service that can handle the increase in network traffic. Check with your hosting provider to see if upgrading to a new plan or service is necessary for improving your eCommerce site speed. 

Use a tag management system (TMS)

Analyzing customer data is an important part of any eCommerce sales and marketing strategy. However, the techniques used to collect this data can produce slow page loading speeds, and end up doing more bad than good. JavaScript tracking tags—used to gather information around customer behavior—must be managed efficiently to avoid poor page performance and even site outages. With a TMS like Google Tag Manager, you can condense all of your tags into a single JavaScript request—reducing the number of outside calls necessary to load the webpage.

Introduce browser caching

Browser caching involves important files from a website being stored in an individual user’s browser so that those files don’t need to be sent from the server every time the user visits that site. Rather, the user’s browser will only request certain files, like ones that have recently been added or modified—such as recent customer reviews or updated product prices. With less information being requested from the server, your eCommerce site can operate more efficiently and reduce page load times. If your site is hosted on WordPress, you can introduce browser caching by integrating any one of these plugins:

Take advantage of compression software

Compression software like gzip automatically reduces file sizes on the server-side before transferring them to a user’s browser. Simply put, the bigger the file size, the longer it takes to load—this is especially true with images. But with compression software you can reduce the size of those files by up to 70%, allowing them to be delivered and loaded more quickly on the user end. 

Get rid of poorly-performing applications and plug-ins

As a general rule, it’s important to regularly take stock of your website’s various apps and plug-ins. In doing so, you may find that some are performing worse than others, in which case you should look for a replacement solution. And if the software is no longer being used, delete it to create more space and less work for your server. Cleaning up your environment of apps and plug-ins is an easy way to shave a few milliseconds off your webpage loading times. 

Avoid redirects and broken links

Both redirects and broken links trigger unnecessary HTTP requests, which can negatively affect your site’s speed and performance. Routine housekeeping of your various web pages should help to avoid redirects and broken links whenever possible. Here are some helpful tools for finding and removing broken links: 

Don’t use too many pop-ups

Pop-ups may be useful in promoting certain products and services to customers—but they should be used sparingly. If you enable too many pop-ups on your site, especially those with high-resolution images, the overload of data can result in slow page loading times and frustrated customers. 

Optimize site images

As we’ve already touched on, images—which account for 50% to 75% of a webpage’s total data—are often the culprit for slow page loading times, especially when it comes to mobile devices. By reducing the size of images before you add them, or simply cutting down on the number of images on your site, you can trigger fewer HTTP requests and greatly improve your eCommerce site speed. 

How to measure site speed

For growing businesses with an increasing number of customers, products, and web content, routinely testing eCommerce site speed is crucial. And with the right tools, measuring site speed is a quick and easy process. As a general rule, if a page is taking more than 3 seconds to load, it likely needs attention. 

Here are some of the most popular solutions for diagnosing site speed:

Team up with Codal to accelerate your business’ eCommerce site speed

Here at Codal, we specialize in helping businesses maximize the value of their eCommerce sites. Naturally, this includes establishing and maintaining fast page load times. With superior website design and development and cutting-edge technologies, we can help your business create a faster, more reliable customer experience. 

While you focus on running your business, we can run proactive maintenance on your site, get in front of issues before they have a negative impact, identify areas of improvement, and execute any necessary changes to the back- or front end. 

Ready to get started improving your eCommerce site speed? Get in touch with Codal today!

Gibson Toombs

Gibson Toombs

Gibson Toombs is a Technical Content Writer at Codal. His writing career began in 2015 after graduating from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Since then, he has worked on many projects, covering a wide range of technical topics, from solar energy to cybersecurity. When he’s not taking complex ideas and turning them into easily-digestible pieces of content, Gibson can be found playing guitar and writing songs at his apartment in Chicago.


emerging technology

Google announces expanded Shopify integration and more eCommerce features


Reigning in your eCommerce returns process: How automation can simplify returns [eBook]